Saturday, September 11, 2010

Climbing in Zion National Park

Zion Canyon has the most big walls in the United States and is arguably the country's most beautiful big wall and multi-pitch free climbing destination. There are hundreds of Grade IV climbs in the 800-1500 foot tall range and more than a few taller than 2000 feet. Some climbs are "sport wall climbs" meaning there is almost no approach and you can bail at any point on solid anchors. Other climbs involve intense bushwhacking through cactus-covered slopes followed by massive commitment on a week-long climb followed by a nasty descent. And of course, there are a lot of climbs in between these two extremes.

What stands out about Zion is just how many vertical 1000+ walls there are. Zion Canyon is a similar size as Yosemite Valley. However, while Yosemite has just a dozen vertical big walls with a lot of low angle terrain and forest in between, almost the ENTIRE Zion Canyon is bordered by big walls ranging between 800-2500 feet in height. There are hundreds and hundreds of tall rock climbs and nearly endless cragging possibilities. What stands out about the free climbing in Zion is how wildly varied the cracks are. You can climb face holds on bullet-proof dark varnish (similar to Red Rocks) or jam straigh-in parell sided cracks (similar to Indian Creek).

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